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National Portrait Gallery Announces Family Affair Shortlist for 2013 Biggest Ever Cash Prize BP Portrait Award


Two artists have been short-listed for the BP Portrait Award 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery, London – for powerful paintings of their sons and daughters.

As part of BP’s support for a further five years of the BP Portrait Award, one of the world’s most prestigious art competitions, the First Prize has been increased by £5,000 to £30,000. This makes it one of the largest for any global arts competition. The winner will receive the £30,000 cash prize and a commission worth £5,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.

The Second Prize winner will receive £10,000. While the competition is open to everyone over the age of 18, for the sixth year there will be a BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30. This award winner and the other prize-winners will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 18 June 2013. The portraits go on display to the public at the BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 June to 15 September 2013.

The two artists shortlisted for the 2013 BP Portrait Award 2013 are John Devane for The Uncertain Time and Susanne du Toit for Pieter. John Devane (17.08.1954) for The Uncertain Time (1720 x 2490mm, oil on canvas).

A painter who also teaches at Coventry University, John Devane, has an MA from the Royal College of Art. He has been shortlisted for his large group portrait of his three children: Lucy, 25, Laura, 20, and Louis, 15. Painted over three years, the picture sets out to show how children emerge from childhood and begin to assert their independence revealing something of their adult selves. He says: ‘The composition suggests an almost stage-like shallow space constructed in two zones with the three figures presented as if they are awaiting some kind of event’. The artist’s key points of reference are the works of Courbet, Chardin, Degas, Balthus and Samuel Beckett. This will be the second time John Devane’s work has been exhibited at the BP Portrait Award, his In the House of The Cellist was seen in the 1995 exhibition.

Susanne du Toit (05.03.1955) for Pieter (1080 x 830mm, oil on canvas). Educated at the University of Pretoria and the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Susanne du Toit is an artist now based in Crowthorne, Berkshire. She has been shortlisted for her portrait of her eldest son Pieter, aged 35. The sitting took place in the artist’s studio, as part of a series of portraits of her family. Susanne du Toit says she allowed Pieter to find his own pose, with the condition that his hands would appear prominently in the composition – she says she has always found hands essential to communicating personality. ‘I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face’, she says. ‘Having said that, the averted gaze of this portrait, which was his choice, struck me as characteristic of his reflective character, and became intensely engaging’.

This year the competition received 1,969 entries from 77 different countries. 55 portraits have been selected for the exhibition (National Portrait Gallery, London, 20 June - 15 September 2013).

The Portrait Award is now in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 24th year of sponsorship by BP. This highly successful annual event aims to encourage artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of painted portraiture within their work. The BP Portrait Award 2012 had 255,982 visitors.

The competition was judged from original paintings by: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Chair of the Judging Panel; David Dawson, Painter and Photographer; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria Pomery OBE, Director, Turner Contemporary; Ali Smith, Writer; Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP.

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘These two outstanding portraits show the strength of painted portraiture today. Thanks to BP’s continued and generous sponsorship, the new level of prizes can be awarded and the works can be shared with thousands of visitors.’

Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, says: ‘It is always such a pleasure to judge the work of such talented artists. BP is delighted to continue its support for such a prestigious international competition that attracts entries from over 70 countries each year.’

One of the 55 exhibited artists will also be eligible for the BP Travel Award 2013, an annual award of £6,000, which allows artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. The resulting portraits are displayed in the following year’s exhibition. The winner will also be announced on Tuesday 18 June.

BP travel award 2012
The BP Travel Award 2012 was won by Carl Randall for his proposal to travel to Japan and journey along the Nakasendo Highway, following in the footsteps of the Japanese printmaker Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hiroshige produced a series of woodblock prints on his travels which serve as an artistic document of life in Japan in the 19th Century. Starting in Tokyo and travelling to Kyoto, Randall has produced a series of portraits depicting locals along the route as it exists today, contrasting with life found in Hiroshige’s time. He says, ‘I have visited a cross-section of professions from old and new Japanese society - from salary men in office blocks, to farmers in rice fields; employees of motorway restaurants, service stations and roadside hotels.’ Carl Randall’s portraits will be on show as part of the BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition.

BP Portrait award 2013 and BP travel award 2012
20 June – 15 September 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London, Admission free Supported by BP Exhibition Press View: Wednesday 19 June 10am-12pm.

Exhibition tour
The exhibition will tour to Aberdeen Art Gallery (2 November 2013 – 1 February 2014) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (3 March – 14th June 2014.)

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features an introductory essay by Joanna Trollope. The BP Portrait Award 2013 book will be published on 20 June 2013, and will include over 60 colour illustrations, price £9.99 (pbk).

Family trail
The National Portrait Gallery will be working with children’s picture book illustrator Anna Hymas to produce drawings for a free family trail and a number of special exhibition labels that will offer a range of creative activities throughout the duration of the BP Portrait Award 2013.

Bp Portrait award: next generation
BP Portrait Award: Next Generation is an exciting project opening up free opportunities for 14-19 year-olds to creatively engage with portraiture through the BP Portrait Award. Young people will be able to connect with past BP Portrait Award winning artists, meet other young people interested in portraiture and create their own portraits through a series of programmes including Taster Sessions, Drop-in Drawing, Summer Schools and digital content including video interviews with artists and participants. More details will be announced in May.

BP Portrait award 2013 – overall figures
Total number of entrants 1,969 (UK Entries 1, 223, International Entries 746)

BP Portrait award 2013 – exhibition figures (55 selected from total entry)
Scotland (2), England (31), Ireland (3), Northern Ireland (2), Italy (2), Slovakia (1), USA (5), France (1), Spain (2), Belgium (1), Israel (1), South Africa (1), Netherlands (1), Canada (1), Germany (1)

Notes for Editors:
BP support for UK Arts & Culture: In the UK, BP is a major supporter of the arts with a programme that spans over 35 years. In 2011 BP announced its investment of almost £10 million in extending its long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and Tate Britain over the next five years. Taken together, these agreements represent one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
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Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm)
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